Relationships between women deserve care
Well-being and sexual health include all kinds of relationships, and love between women is no exception. Whether or not you identify as lesbian or bisexual, if you have erotic and/or affective relationships with other women, it is important to attend to certain aspects of your health.
Take care of your mind
Mental health is a very relevant issue for people with a sexual orientation other than heterosexual. This is because many sectors of society still condemn relationships between people of the same sex, and this stigma tends to limit the rights of those who are assumed to be homosexual.
Thus, according to information from the Mayo Clinic (an important non-profit hospital consortium), non-heterosexual people are at greater risk of suffering from depression and anxiety. This is caused by discrimination, the rejection they may receive from loved ones, and violence.
The important thing is to know that no one has to live with depression or anxiety, as there are specialists who can treat these problems. It can be a little intimidating to find a mental health professional, especially if your close circle doesn’t know about your sexual orientation, but you can find a friend you trust to talk about what you’re feeling and try to find a solution. At least feeling supported and loved will let you know that you are not alone in your pain.
Take care of your body
There is a misconception that sex between women is safer (or less risky) in terms of sexually transmitted infections (STIs). This is false, since infections such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), bacterial vaginosis and trichomoniasis are just some of those that can be transmitted between women.
The microorganisms that cause these infections can be passed from one person to another through oral sex and finger stimulation over the vagina or anus, as well as through shared sex toys.
The good news is that you can have a safer sex life using the tools available for it. For example, to perform (or receive) oral sex, use latex plates (also known as mouth guards, the kind used by dentists). If you can’t get these, you can cut out an outer condom: cut off the tip, then cut lengthwise to make a rectangle. Place it on the area you are going to stimulate.
If you share sex toys with your partner, especially those used for penetration, put a new condom on them each time one of you uses it. Don’t forget to wash them with mild soap and water before and after using them. To stimulate your partner’s genitals or anal area with your fingers, you can use a latex glove like those used in medical services.
To these protective utensils you can add other measures, such as vaccination. HPV, hepatitis A and hepatitis B are viruses that can be transmitted sexually, but for all of them there are effective vaccines that prevent future complications. Remember that cervical cancer and liver cirrhosis have an important relationship with these pathogens.
Take care of your emotional health
If you are experiencing depression or anxiety, you may be abusing alcohol or other drugs to feel better. This puts your health at risk in many ways, since it damages your body, generates dependency and exposes you to risky sexual practices without having clarity in your decisions. Addictions are a serious problem that can be treated by specialists, so it is important that you seek help.
Another problem that is essential to recognize is intimate partner violence. Regardless of sexual orientation, there are violent couples who seek to have control at all costs, and this is especially complicated because some lesbian or bisexual women keep quiet about the situation for fear of revealing their sexual orientation or being socially judged.
Remember that violence is a cycle: aggression, apology, reconciliation. If you have identified that your relationship has this type of dynamic, you can break that circle, and if necessary you can seek support from a loved one or a mental health specialist.
At AHF Latin America and the Caribbean, we exercise respect for the sexual orientation of all people every day. If you want to obtain services such as free HIV detection tests, come to our offices in your country or write to us by WhatsApp and we will gladly assist you.